Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)


Introduction

Ewoks: The Battle for Endor is a 1985 television film set in the Star Wars universe co-written and directed by Jim and Ken Wheat from a story by George Lucas.

A sequel to Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984), it focuses on Cindel Towani, the human girl from the first film, who, after being orphaned, joins the Ewoks in protecting their village and defeating the marauders who have taken control of the Endor moon.

Along with Caravan of Courage, the film is set between the events of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983).

Outline

Nearly six months have passed since the events of the first film; the Towani family’s star cruiser is almost completely fixed and Jeremitt is putting the final touches on the craft. While the family is preparing to leave the forest moon of Endor, the Ewok village is attacked by a group of Marauders led by Terak and his witch-like sorceress Charal. Many Ewoks are killed. Cindel escapes, but is forced to leave her family to their doom at the hand of the Marauders.

While running away from the carnage, Cindel and Wicket meet Teek, a small, fast native of Endor. Teek takes them to the home of Noa Briqualon, a human male who is angered by their uninvited presence and throws them out. Eventually he proves himself to be kindhearted, letting Teek steal food for Cindel and Wicket, and inviting the two in as they attempt to build a fire for warmth.

At the Marauders’ castle, Terak orders Charal to find Cindel, assuming she knows how to use “the power” in the energy cell stolen from Jeremitt’s star cruiser. Meanwhile, Noa, Cindel, and Wicket are becoming friends. It is revealed that Noa is rebuilding his own wrecked star cruiser, only missing the energy cell. Cindel is awakened one morning by a song her mother used to sing. She follows the voice to find a woman singing, who transforms into Charal and takes her to Terak. He orders Cindel to activate “the power”, but she cannot, and is imprisoned with the Ewoks. Outside, Noa, Wicket, and Teek sneak into the castle, free Cindel and the Ewoks, and escape with the energy cell.

Terak, Charal, and the Marauders pursue them back to the ship, where Wicket leads the Ewoks in defence of the cruiser as Noa installs the energy cell. The Ewoks put up a valiant effort, and are nearly beaten by the time Noa powers up the ship and uses its laser cannons to fend off the Marauders. Cindel goes to save Wicket and is captured by Terak, as the other Marauders retreat. Terak and Noa face off, with Wicket finally coming to the rescue, killing Terak and simultaneously leaving Charal trapped in bird form. Shortly thereafter, goodbyes are said, and Cindel leaves Endor with Noa on his starship.

Cast

  • Warwick Davis as Wicket W. Warrick.
  • Aubree Miller as Cindel Towani.
  • Wilford Brimley as Noa Briqualon.
  • Carel Struycken as Terak.
  • Siân Phillips as Charal.
  • Niki Botelho as Teek.
  • Paul Gleason as Jeremitt.
  • Eric Walker as Mace.
  • Marianne Horine as Young Witch.
  • Daniel Frishman as Deej.
  • Tony Cox as Willy.
  • Pam Grizz as Shodu.
  • Roger Johnson as Lieutenant.
  • Michael Pritchard as Card Player #1.
  • Johnny Weissmuller Jr. as Card Player #2.
  • Matthew Roloff as Ewok with Crutches.

Production

The film was shot in Marin County, California, with Lucas’ involvement during production being primarily in the design and editing stages, according to Wheat. The film’s working title was Ewoks II.

Effects

Both Ewok films were some of the last intensive stop-motion animation work Industrial Light & Magic produced, as in the early 1980’s, the technique was being replaced by go motion animation, a more advanced form with motorised articulated puppets that moved while the camera shutter was open, capturing motion blur in the otherwise static puppet, eliminating the harsh staccato movement often associated with stop motion. However, the budgets of the Ewok films were such that go motion was simply too expensive for the projects, so stop motion was used to realise creatures such as the condor dragon, the blurrgs, and the boar-wolves.

The Ewok movies proved an opportunity for Industrial Light & Magic to hone a new technique in photographing matte paintings, called latent image matte painting. In this technique, during live action photography a section of the camera’s lens is blocked off, remaining unexposed, and a painting is crafted to occupy that space. The film would then be rewound, the blocked areas reversed, and the painting photographed. Since the painting now existed on the original film, there would be no generational quality loss.

Music

The musical score for Ewoks: The Battle for Endor was composed by Peter Bernstein. Selections from the score were released on LP by Varèse Sarabande in 1986. The release was known simply as Ewoks, and also contained cues from Bernstein’s previous score to The Ewok Adventure.

Alternative Versions

  • In a home video release, the following two scenes were deleted: when being chased by Terak’s men, Wicket races for Noa’s house but Noa tells him the only chance they have got is the star cruiser. Then a scene that happened shortly after where the men went inside and burned down Noa’s house.
  • When Cindel has a nightmare about bad guys coming into Noa’s house, a scene was cut from the television broadcast, in which Cindel rushes to Noa’s bed to wake him up, but instead finds Terak in the bed and wakes up. The television version just shows Cindel waking up after the men break in.
  • Cindel’s lines: “Do something, Wicket! Use your sling! You hit the ring!” have been altered to “Do something, Wicket! Do something!” for the DVD release.
  • In the original TV broadcast of the film, the end credits were rolled over the final scene, but in all home-video releases of the film, the end credits are rolled over a traditional black background after the final scene.

Trivia

  • In 1986, Random House published a children’s book adaptation of The Battle for Endor called The Ring, the Witch, and the Crystal: An Ewok Adventure.
    • The book was written by Cathy East Dubowski, and utilised the film’s story and images from the film.
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor initially premiered as an ABC TV special on 24 November 1985.
    • It was released theatrically in the UK as a limited run in the Spring of 1986.
    • After the run had disappeared due to low box office receipts, it appeared on home video in late 1987 on MGM/UA and re-issued for retail in 1988 and 1990.
    • The US later released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1990 through MGM/UA Home Video.
  • The film was released on DVD with its predecessor as a double feature collection entitled Star Wars: Ewok Adventures on 23 November 2004 via 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
    • One film was on each side of a single double-sided disc, with no bonus material.
  • In January 2019, Disney and Lucasfilm released The Battle for Endor on Amazon’s Prime Video service, where it was available to rent or buy in standard definition.
    • As of December 2019, the film was no longer available through that service.
  • As of September 2019, the streaming service Disney+ had announced no plans to host the Ewok films, prompting Eric Walker to start a petition for Disney to add them.
  • At the 38th Primetime Emmy Awards, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor and the CBS documentary Dinosaur! were both juried-awarded Emmys for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.
  • The film additionally received two nominations for Outstanding Children’s Programme and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Special.
  • Blurrgs appear in the animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and the streaming series The Mandalorian; the latter is the first live-action Star Wars television project since The Battle for Endor.
  • Gwendoline Christie, in an interview with Collider in December 2017, stated her support of the fan theory that her character from The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), Captain Phasma, is an older version of Cindel.

Star Wars Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Ken Wheats and Jim Wheats.
  • Producer(s): George Lucas, Thomas G. Smith, and Ian Bryce.
  • Writer(s): Ken Wheats and Jim Wheats.
  • Music: Peter Bernstein.
  • Cinematography: Isidore Mankofsky.
  • Editor(s): Eric Jenkins.
  • Production: Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox Television.
  • Distributor(s): 20th Television and Disney-ABC Domestic Television.
  • Release Date: 24 November 1985.
  • Running time: 94 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

 

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